10 Ways to Use Notebooking: #6 History

Many students learn to hate history — dates, facts, figures, maps.  Boring. Many historians lament that history, the way it is typically taught, simply doesn’t stick. What we need here is to remember that history is a story!

So, here are a few ideas for keeping the story in history while using the tool of notebooking to encourage our children to learn for themselves while interacting with what they read.

  • At the younger age levels, rely on engaging biographies and books of historical fiction to tell the story.  Have your child (briefly) narrate to you orally what he learned.  You can write his thoughts down on paper for him and place them in his history notebook.
  • Study Bible history right along with secular history.  (Some of us older folks had one in Sunday school and the other in public school and it took years to figure out that the Egypt with pyramids was the same as the Egypt of Moses!)
  • As your child progresses, add an engaging and factual history spine to work from.  Add biographies and historical fiction.  Your child can write his own narrations and keep them in his history notebook.
  • When the student reaches the higher levels, you can add primary source documents.  Consider adding comparisons/contrasts, causes/effects, and cover the broader concepts.  Discussions greatly aid the process (and yes, that means we have to be reading and learning, too!).
  • Include maps in your history notebook of the locations studied.  I have found this can be overdone and become a cumbersome chore instead of a learning experience.  So one caveat — not EVERYTHING needs to be mapped!
  • Consider keeping a timeline.  This can actually be the history notebook itself if you are studying history in chronological order.  Or it can be its own history book with figures and brief descriptions of people and events.
  • Over the course of time you’ll probably find many engaging history projects to include in your studies.  If the projects are too large for a notebook, take pictures that can be placed inside.
  • You will find your history notebook begins to grow larger in proportion to other areas of study.  So don’t be surprised if your history notebook includes music, art, and scientists, and you have difficulty keeping things separate.  It is OK to lose the “subject” delineations and just learn!

Additional Resources

10 Elements of Engaging History Studies
How to create your own history studies.

Other resources, free eBooks, notebooking pages, and more!


12 Favorite History Interactives
Quality interactives that help reinforce concepts and what is learned.

Interactive Timeline Maker {Free}
Another way to make a history timeline that can be printed and placed in a notebook.


American Historical Documents
Free public domain download that is comprised of primary source documents dating from 1000-1904.  Must-have for older students!

The Patriot’s Handbook
Over one hundred primary source documents, speeches, landmark decisions, and verses beginning with Columbus and ending with President George Bush’s September 11 speech. Very complete! Read our full review.

The History of the United States {Free eBook for Early Readers}
A spine for younger readers, if desired.

Beacon Lights of History {Free eBooks}
Excellent history spine for older students.

Unit Studies
Free History Studies: Stories of Great Americans

Free History Studies: Stories of Great Americans
Our own free history studies including link to free eBook.

Printables & Notebooking Pages

Book of Centuries {Free Blank Timeline}
A book of centuries can be the student’s own book, where he writes, illustrates, copies, or pastes figures, dates, geographical locations, quotations, and other components of history.

Two Page Spread Timeline Book Pages
Another option from Highland Heritage Home School.

Enjoy the entire series:
10 Ways to Use Notebooking
10 Ways to Use Notebooking: Complete Series

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